Showin' some love to the sheer awesomeness of homemade gifts

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shrink Film Success! (And some Dimensional Magic) Celtic Keychain

After my first failed attempt with shrinky dink film and a technical yet messy success, I decided to give it another try in hopes of creating something that was actually attractive.  End result:
 A celtic keychain for my favorite (and only) sister.  This one is definitely a success. 

Despite the warnings on the Silhouette website, I decided to try running a sheet of shrink film through my Silhouette cutter.  The shrink plastic is quite thick and the blade did not cut through.  In fact, it probably dulled quite a bit in the attempt.  It turned out okay though, because the blade scored the plastic well enough that I did not have much trouble cutting the shape out with a craft knife.
The plastic is glossy, so the instruction sheet recommends sanding the surface with fine grit sand paper before using colored pencils or rubber stamps on it.  This worked pretty well - I used colored pencils and the color did not stick at all where the surface was slick, but the color took pretty well where the plastic was sanded.
Colored pencils are just fun - so much texture in the blended colors!

Sorry, no photos next to a ruler, but here are the before and after with my hole punch for perspective.
It's pretty amazing what 3 minutes in the oven can do!

This also turned out to be a good time to experiment with some Dimensional Magic.  I applied it to the surface of the knot and it seemed surprisingly watery, but seemed to still maintain its shape.  I put a drop at the corner of the knot and it across the curve as if it were on a track.
Couldn't get out all of the bubbles though - bummer! 

But see how milky it started out?

No worries, it definitely dries clear!

Friday, April 15, 2011

FO Friday - an Amazing matching set

Yay - I have a finished object to share!
I finally finished the Amazing mitts, from the Semplice Mitts pattern by Knitpicks.  They turned out really well.  They are soft and warm, and without anything too fancy to distract from the color changes in the yarn.  The pattern was pretty simple, except for the ambiguous directions on where to place the stitch markers for the thumb increases.  I hope the recipient enjoys them.

And here is the matching set, along with the convertible neck warmer.

So overall the pattern + yarn combo was a success - the patterns were both pretty mindless, and the color changes in the yarn kept it interesting enough to complete.

Check out the rest of the Friday FOs over at Tami's Amis!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shrink Film ....Success?

Refusing to be beaten by the shrinky dink film, I gave it another try.  The problem I had with the first attempt was that the film curled up on itself and welded together that way while it was still in the oven.  A tip I read somewhere was to place a sheet of vellum on top of the film while it was in the oven, and that was the magic trick that made it work.

So I started by drawing out a name, cutting it out, and adding a hole punched at the top to attach it to a keychain or zipper.

Next I let my son color in the letters - we used Prismacolor markers, and the markers on the film are pretty messy. 

Since my son loves anything Spider-Man-esque, I took the thin pen side of the markers and added in little spiders and webs into the red letters:

Onto a sheet of vellum it goes.  This was an 8 1/2"x11" sheet, for an idea of the before size.
With another sheet of vellum on top to keep the film flat.  Sorry for the printing - this was scrap vellum I salvaged from some mail, thinking vellum is a terrible thing to waste.
And... whadya know?  It shrunk down and didn't end up in a hot little curled mess!

You can even see the little spiders and webs in the red letters, which is really neat.

The finished size is about 3" tall, so it probably shrunk down about 50%. 

There was a little bit of curling even as the film cooled, and I'm not really sure how to keep that from happening.  The black marker looks a little caked on, as you can see on the "e" above, but touching it, it does not actually feel flaky.
This stuff is a lot of fun to play with.  My son is so excited to have his name that he helped make, he even carried it to bed with him.  All kinds of ideas are swirling in my head for the next shrinky project.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Knitting, Crochet, and Swatching! Another WIP Wednesday

Yup, that's right.  Swatching!  It used to seem like a waste of time, but as I've been knitting more involved projects, it just seems worth the effort.  So in between other already in progress projects, I started a stockinette swatch for the Myrtle cardigan.

The swatch is from a recycled Talbot's sweater in a wool/cotton blend.  (For a pretty nifty tutorial on stashing on the cheap by recycling sweaters, check out this site.)

I followed some advice in a recycled yarn group on Ravelry, where the more seasoned recyclers suggested not bothering to straighten the yarn before knitting with it.  So I washed the sweater, unraveled it into balls, and knit straight from the balls.  The yarn, at this point, is pretty kinky and the swatch stitches are a bit sloppy.
However the Myrtle pattern calls for larger needles and a lacy pattern that will require aggressive blocking.  So I'm reserving judgment on the kinky yarn until I tackle the lace swatch and *double gasp* block the swatch.  The yarn may very well straighten out with blocking, so we'll see.  *Fingers crossed*

And much overdue is a birthday owl:

It looks like a bowl at this point, but the top two stripes already have some decreases for the neck area.  For some reason my crochet rounds never line up, are they supposed to be this far off?...

Finally, the Amazing mitts are excruciatingly close to being finished.  Just a thumb and a half to knit and some ends to weave in!

Here's the rest of the WIP Wednesday posts!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rub a Dub Dub - Hand Washing Knit Sweaters

I hate to admit it, but I can be pretty lazy about hand washing knits.  It's such a pain to fill the bath tub soak the knits, and then have to gently wring out  the water without causing too much agitation.  But then as I was gathering up some baby gear to clear out of the house, I re-thought chucking the old non-contoured baby tub.  It's perfect for soaking knits!

It fits two adult sweaters pretty comfortably.
It also eliminates some of the headache of wringing out the water - there's a plug at one end that lets a good amount of the water drain with no agitation at all.  What water remains can be gently squished out and then the knits are ready for blocking and drying.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shrink Film Craft Fail!

Remember how much fun shrinky dinks were?!  I found some of the plain shrink film at the craft store and all kinds of ideas started swirling around - jewelry, buttons, zipper pulls, maybe even little custom people that look like my family to jazz up Candy Land.  But the first attempt didn't go so well. 

The Little Man of the House gets so excited when he sees his name, so for the first experiment with shrink film, I wrote his name in black marker.  The film is pretty glossy, so it needed to dry a bit to keep from smearing the ink.

Then I cut around the name and added a little hole so that we can eventually attach it to a keychain or zipper or something else that the Little Man will be pround of.

Next, things got a little messy.  BEWARE of the smudgies - Even though the marker had set a bit on the film, it still smears when adding in  allowing a 4-year-old to add in other colors.  It may not suit my grown-up taste, but it was totally kid-tastic by preschool standards.

Next step - get that baby into the oven for 2-3 minutes.  The directions are sparse, but do say that the film will curl before flattening, and do not remove it from the heat before it uncurls. 5 minutes later it is still in the oven and yet not uncurled because it managed to meld itself together.  I managed to break it while trying to uncurl it:

Even in the hard curled plastic mess, I see some promise.  The colors really did pop out in a fun and cartoony way after baking, and it looks like the finished product will be sturdy.  So attempt number two is to follow, wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday - Amazing Mitts

After finishing the Knitted Gifts convertible neckwarmer, I had 2 1/2 skeins of Amazing left over and cast on some mitts to go with it.  The pattern is Semplice, a freebie on Knitpicks.  In theory, it's a simple pattern, but it's a bit hard to follow.  The pattern is unclear on where to place the stitch markers to place the thumb increases.  I improvised by starting the thumb increases at the beginning of the rounds, but in retrospect the pattern probably intended the thumb increases to begin at the end of one round and continue into the start of the next.
Other than the thumb issue, the pattern is pretty clear and simple.  It is a twisted rib cuff, straight stockinette, a thumb, and then some more stockinette and twisted rib.  One nice thing about the pattern is that the two mitts are identical, so there is no shaping to reverse.  That makes it easier when you're a two-at-a-time-on-one-needle junkie like me.  Socks, sleeves, mittens, you name it, two at a time is the way to go.

Don't forget to visit the roundup of the other WIP Wednesdays.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Taming the Startitis - finished two projects!

It's another Finished Object Friday and I actually have two of them to share.  They were actually finished last week but life was too hectic to get them photographed and uploaded.  So without further delay...

The Vine Yoke Cardigan is finished - more or less blocked and complete with buttons:
The blocking was only "more or less" because I was not very aggressive with it, just sort of pulling the bottom into shape, and it ended up drying unevenly.  So looking from the front, the left side hangs a little lower than the right.  Buttons were an issue - I was anxious to get something on them and ended up going to JoAnn.   Have you ever tried finding 10 matching buttons at JoAnn?  Especially 10 large (1 1/8") buttons?  Choices were limited; I could only find 4 or 6 of any button I loved, and ended up with buttons I liked instead.
They are cute, and made from coconut shells.  They have grown on me and I think they may stay on the sweater, instead of being a temporary solution until I find the gray buttons I first envisioned.
This was definitely a fun knit, and was suprisingly quick.  If I had worked more diligently, it would have taken under three weeks to finish. 

And the other finished object is a gift for a family member - she really wanted the convertible neckwarmer from the Knitted Gifts book, and here it is:

The Lion Brand Amazing produced a nice, soft, warm fabric. 

The idea of the convertile neckwarmer is that it can be worn around the neck like a cowl, or the i-cord on top can be cinched up to make it more of a hat.  The warmer is really just a stockinette tube with ribbing at one end and an eyelet row at the other.  I was a little concerned about the sizing, since it seems like anything large enough to be a neck warmer would be too large to work as a hat.  But somehow this seemed just about right.  With longer hair like the recipient has, the ribbing on the bottom will just stay in place and look a little slouchy.
P.S. Say hi to one of the earliest homemade gifts I ever received - he's a handsome model, isn't he?
P.P.S. Check out some more fabulous finished objects over at Tami's Amis.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another Work in Progress Wednesday

Well it's another Work in Progress Wednesday, and instead of actually making progress on something I was already working on, I started a new project.  Luckily, this new project is a gift and it is going pretty quickly.  Which is good, because I think I want another one for myself.  The project is a convertible neck warmer -turned - hat from the book Knitted Gifts:
The yarn is Lion Brand Amazing, and I really like it!

The yarn is 53% wool and 47% acrylic, and it is pretty soft.  It has a slight halo so the stitch definition is not completely clear.  But it seems both drapey and warm.  Plus, it's fun to see the colors change.

This is my second project from the book.  The first was a pair of hobby horses that I knit last Christmas.  There are a few nice projects in the book, but they largely not quick knits which makes them not my ideal gifts.  The neckwarmer, though, works up quickly, so it gets an A in my book.
Check out the other work in progress Wednesdays here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More Works in Progress Wednesday

This week has been kind of crazy, but I've still made progress on a couple of projects.  First, the sweater I have been longing for for about a year, the Vine Yoke Cardigan, is almost done.  I just need to graft the underarms and then add some buttons, still TBD.

I also started what should be a quick crochet project if I ever take a couple hours to just sit down and work on it.  It is a striped owl, intended as a belated birthday gift for my baby girl (don't worry, she won't have any clue it's late).
So far it is only pink and brown, but I hope to add some fun accent colors.  I found some honest to goodness Red Heart wool at a garage sale over the summer and have been looking for something perfect to use it on, and this will hopefully be the project.
And because Little Miss had a birthday this week, I had the perfect excuse to test out the new Silhouette.  Using just the fonts already on my computer and the free shapes that came with the machine, and a little mod podge, I was able to make this box for the birthday girl.

Because the box is always more fun than the presents, right?
And a custom banner, which was a lot of fun to design.

So those are my works in progress this week.  I can't wait to see what everyone else is up to - here is the roundup of other Work in Progress Wednesday posts.